Last Updated: 29.03.2022

Do your interior or dome lights always stay on? They do that sometimes.

We all know what the interior lights are supposed to do, right? Every time you open the door, whether you are getting in or out of your car, they are supposed to turn on. Why is that? They turn on to illuminate the cabin, making it easier for you to put the key into the ignition.

But sometimes the lights won’t turn off in car even after the door is shut. If you haven’t experienced this scenario, then at some point you will.

In today’s post, we will go through the various causes of your interior lights staying on and how to fix the problem.

So, keep on reading to learn more!

What Are Interior Lights in a Car?

interior lights of a car

Interior lights in a car are simply automotive lighting sources that illuminate the inside of a car to provide safety and comfort.

A larger percentage of modern cars come equipped with automotive interior lighting. Interior lighting includes overhead lighting (courtesy or dome lights), car door illumination, glovebox light, and back seat lights, among others.

Interior lights do a great job of creating ambiance in your car. But most importantly, they provide the much-needed lighting for locating different controls in your car. You can easily locate the ignition, radio knobs, charging ports, and power window control, among other interior features.

Common Interior Lighting Problems

The following are the common problems you can experience with your interior lights.

Dim Lights

mechanic checking car battery

The lights can appear dim, which is usually a sign of a failing battery or an alternator failure. You can know for sure the alternator or the battery is the problem by testing the voltage.

Flickering Lights

Your interior lights can flicker. The flickering may be caused by a number of things, including a bad alternator, a malfunctioning switch, electrical problems, and corrosion on the battery terminals. You may need a basic inspection done by a professional mechanic to pinpoint the issue.

Interior Lights Stay On

interior lights on the car ceiling

This is the third common problem with automotive interior lighting and the subject of our discussion. There are several reasons why your lights won’t go off, which we will discuss in detail in the next section.

Possible Causes If Lights Won’t Turn Off in Car

These are the most common reasons lights won’t turn off in car:

  • Activated Control Knob

interior lights control switch

If your interior lights or dome light stays on, then you’ve probably got an activated control knob. Turning it off should solve the problem.

  • Failure to Close the Door Properly

Did you know that there is a connection linking your interior lights to the door of your car? That’s why the lights turn on when you open and vice versa. So, a door that wasn’t closed properly could be the culprit.

  • Faulty or Damaged Switch

The interior lights are normally equipped with a manual switch on the dashboard, on the door, and on the roof. If the switch is faulty or damaged, it may cause the lights to stays on.

  • Adjustment of the Dimmer Switch

Every car with interior lighting usually comes with a dimmer switch. This switch controls the dashboard’s brightness. If you accidentally turn the switch to its highest setting, the interior lights will stay on.

How To Fix Inside Lights Not Turning Off in a Car

As we have seen, there is more than one reason why the inside lights in your car may stay on after closing the door. Here are some quick tips and tricks that can help you fix the problem:

Turn Off the Dimmer Switch

Some vehicles have this unique feature that allows you to increase as well decrease the brightness of the dashboard lighting for convenience and comfort. Check and confirm that this switch is not at its maximum setting. If it is, turn it off. The interior lights should operate normally. If that doesn’t help, then try the next solution.

Check the Dome Light Switch

There are different dome light switches. The most popular one is the push-button switch. If you look at the door jamb of your vehicle, you may find a switch. If you don’t find any switch along the entire perimeter of the door jamb, then check the door for any kind of button. If you don’t find anything, the vehicle doesn’t have a door switch.

Go ahead and look for a switch that is located inside the latch assembly. Use a convenient tool to toggle the latch switch, which should tell the door that it is in a closed position and automatically turn off the courtesy lights. If for some reason the door jamb or push-button switch isn’t working, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem with the wiring.

Check the Condition of the Door and Hinges

If your push-button switch or latch switch is working properly, the next thing you can do is check the condition of the door and hinges.

If the hinges aren’t sitting properly and the door is just hanging out of balance, then the latch will not do its job. So, if the latch isn’t completely fastened, then, of course, it will not interrupt the circuit and it’s not going to turn off your courtesy lights or dome light.

Lift your door up and down and observe the hinges to see if there is any movement. You can also tell that your door is out of alignment by looking at the striker and the door latch to see if there is any damage caused by rubbing.

The lights staying on if you have a bad door is a good thing as far as safety is concerned because you wouldn’t otherwise know that your door has a problem.

You can also tell your door hinges are bad by slamming the door with a significant amount of force. The slamming should turn off the dome light or courtesy lights. 

What If My Courtesy Lights or Dome Lights Don’t Work?

If, however, your lights don’t turn on at all when you open the door, then you will have to trace the wiring. This way, you can know if there is any fault or disconnection.

The wiring normally starts from the door switch across the frame of your car and into the dashboard. The wiring is delicate, so, you’ve got to be careful otherwise hire the services of a professional mechanic.

Check the lights or bulbs. If the filament is burnt or the glass looks black or discolored in any way, then you will have to replace them. But if the bulbs are okay and the lights don’t work, you can use a power probe to test if there is any power at the circuit. If the circuit has power, then you will know that the issue is with the bulb. If there is power, however, you will have to keep on searching for the problem.

The next thing you can check is a blown fuse because every electrical circuit has one. Fuses are used to protect electrical circuits from too high amperage, thereby preventing damage or even fire in the lights and electronics of your car.

It is important that you replace any blown fuse with one of the same size and type. If it is not possible to see visually that the fuse is blown, then you should test it using a multimeter that has a continuity test facility. If the test seems to be challenging for you, try a new fuse. 


Do car interior lights automatically turn off?

They are uniquely designed to turn off automatically unless you turn the dimmer switch to maximum, physically turn on the interior light switch, or have a bad push-button or latch switch. 

Will the battery be depleted by the interior lights staying on?

If your courtesy or dome lights stay on for long, they will run down the battery. A typical car battery has a voltage of 12 volts and a capacity of 45 Ah. So, a few small bulbs left on for more than 24 hours may deplete the battery. You’ve got to address the situation by following the aforementioned tips.

Can I replace the interior lights in my car?

Yes, you can replace them if they aren’t working. But how easily you can access the bulbs depends mostly on the make and model of your car. In most cars, the bulbs are covered by a plastic lens that is secured by a few screws or plastic clips. The trick is to know how to disassemble the unit holding the bulb in place.

You might also want to read our troubleshooting guide on how to reset the car radio without code

Final Thoughts

Now you know the most common reasons why your lights won’t turn off in car after closing the door. In most cases, it isn’t a big deal and you may not have to contact a mechanic. For example, if a max setting on the dimmer switch is the cause of the lights staying on, just turn it off. But something a little bit serious like a damaged door latch switch may require the expertise of a mechanic.